Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wolverine--The Best Errand Boy There Is!!

Last week's One Month To Live #4 guest-starred Wolverine. For some reason.

Issue #3's final panel made a big deal over Wolverine. But when #4 came out, Wolverine didn't even make the cover--yet Ka-Zar did!! When was the last time Wolverine guest-starred somewhere without being plastered all over the cover?!?

So what, exactly, did the world's most popular mutant do in this issue?

OK, he's doing a favor for Spider-Man. Fair enough. And the very next panel?

Oh, Reed Richards is having you run errands for him. Good thing you're so tough, Logan.

The next time we see him?

So Reed asked you to "stick around," and then he has you run around gathering everyone for him. Shall we start calling you Jarvis?

Still, Wolverine does have an important function in this issue:

They're going on a trip to the Savage Land to find a magic healing flower. Wolverine says it's OK to bring the kid along--to the freakin' Savage Land--and he'll "watch over her."

How'd that work out??

About that well...the girl was fatally shot whilst Logan was fighting some punks. (Don't worry, she got better--magic healing flower, you know). He's not even the one to notice that she had been shot. So much for "watching over her."Well played, Logan, well played.

Wolverine--Errand Boy!! Butler!! Piss-Poor Bodyguard!! Mr. Operate At The Beck And Call Of Authority Figures!!

Either writer John Ostrander is pretty clueless about Wolverine, or is trying out a brilliant new take on the character...and I'm not sure which...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Nightmare Fuel

Don't look, children:


The scene, from the cover of Weird Mystery #24 (1975) by Bill Draut, actually happens in the lead story, by Mike Fleisher (no surprise!) and Ricardo Villamonte.

Don't believe me?

Sleep tight, kiddies!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Have Too Many Comic Books--The Harlem Globetrotters

Oh, the ravages of a wasted childhood spent in from of the TV set...

For you youngsters in the audience, back in the early to mid 70s, the Harlem Globetrotters were considered da bomb. Pre-Magic and Bird, the NBA wasn't THE NBA yet, and the Globetrotters logged more network TV time than the NBA did. Heck, it seemed like they were on ABC's Wide World Of Sports every couple of weeks!

So popular were the guys from Harlem, they even got their own Saturday morning cartoon series on CBS for a couple of years, and numerous guest appearances on Scooby-Doo. Man, Saturday mornings rocked when I was a kid...

So, of course, they got their own comic book.

Which pretty much followed along with the rigid plot format of the animated series: the Globetrotters had to play some bad guys' team, who was cheating in some manner, and fell behind halftime they had an epiphany on how to beat the baddies (which usually involved "using our razzle-dazzle," which translates as "cheating Globetrotter style"), and they come back in the second half to win with a last second basket.

(And no, no one ever thought to ask why they weren't using this "razzle-dazzle" in the first half, so they didn't fall behind).

So for this particular story, we can pretty much know the whole plot just from the opening caption:

From there, you can just plug and chug the formula. The Globetrotters are captured by Abominable Snowmen:

Their leader, who talks like Bizarro-meets-Yoda, makes Granny his queen:

The guys come up with a plan to distract the King and free her:

You know, that bit cracks me up. Seriously. Anyway, the plan fails, they're thrown into a cell, where they discover "old cave drawings":

So naturally, they challenge the Snowmen to a basketball game to free Granny. Which lead to this hilarious scene:

But sadly, the Globetrotters aren't used to playing with a ball made of snow:

So at halftime:


Fortunately, we have the epiphany:

And the second half played out a little bit differently:


Hmmm, I always did wonder about Granny and Dribbles...

You know what? I like this comic! The art is clean and captures the essence of the animated series quite nicely, without seeming to be the typical crappy-who-cares-rush-job that many TV adaptations saw (GCD credits the penciller as "Tony Tallarico?"). The writer is unknown, but the script is about half a notch more sophisticated than was needed for a kiddie comic, and made me laugh several times.

So, when it comes to Hanna-Barbera Harlem Globetrotters #3 (1972), I guess I don't have too many comics.

BONUS: The apogee of cultural crossovers was, of course, The Harlem Globetrotters On Gilligan's Island. Wherein the castaways had been rescued, and purchased the island and turned it into a getaway resort. Except evil commie scientists Martin Landau and Barbara Bain (!) discover the island has a new element "hundreds of times more powerful than uranium," and proceed to swindle the castaways out of their shares of the island. Fortunately, the Harlem Globetrotters just happen to be on the island, and agree to challenge Landau's evil basketball playing robots (powered by the new element) to a game, with the stake being ownership of the island.

And no, I'm not making any of that up.

Well, of course the Globetrotter's fall way behind at half-time, but their "razzle-dazzle" stumps the too logical robots in the second half, until...well, just watch:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Manc Monday Bonus--Gratuitous Crotch Shot Of The Week

Warning: the following may be somewhat disconcerting.

Oh, my eyes!!!

Richard Dragon: Kung Fu Fighter #2 (1975), cover penciled by Alan Weiss and inked by Al Milgrom.

Manic Monday--Bizarro Am Not Jumping Shark

The exact moment at which the Bizarro concept really really made my head hurt:

Bizarro-Titano? Really? The Kookie Super-Ape?

And wait...if you're Bizarro, Titano's trying to kill you would indeed make him your friend (because Bizarro friends would do the opposite of normal friends, right?)...but then wouldn't you say the opposite, that's he's not a friend (just the way you say goodbye when you arrive and hello when you leave)??

And wait, if Titano really is doing Bizarro a "big favor", why would everyone else be "jealous?" Wouldn't they be the opposite of jealous??

And wait a minute, wouldn't Bizarro-Luthor be stupider than all of the other Bizarros, not smarter??

Oh, my aching head...

I'm with Elaine on this one:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I Am Part Of The Problem, Not Part Of The Solution

CBR earlier this week presented a series of quotes from Bendis on Twitter bemoaning the lack of "thoughtful longform investigative journalism and and critique" from the comics press, and especially blogs.

He is, of course, entitled to his opinion on such matters.

But what really caught my eye was this particular quote:

you’ll forgive me but I think that a snarky pseudo-hip attitude towards mainstream comics is uninteresting.

Wow. Have you ever read any of your own Avengers scripts, bro? Because they're pretty much the epitome of "snarky pseudo-hip attitude towards mainstream comics."

So, we're supposed to react to your snarky, pseudo-hip dialogue and plotting with thoughtful longform journalism.

OK, here's a few "journalistic" questions: why are you padding out a 2 issue storyline to six issues? Are you really just writing for the trades? Shouldn't we expect more for a comic you're charging us $3.99 for? Is this the reason New Avengers sales have dropped by almost 50,000 from issue #1--because you're boring the audience with the glacial pacing? Or because you snarky, pseudo-hip attitude towards mainstream comics is grating to the reader?

You say "comics as an art form is in fantastic shape." Isn't artificially padding out stories to better market them in other media actually harming it? Are you capable of writing a tighter story anymore, or is this "write everything in 6-issue arcs for the trades" practice being dictated to you by corporate?

What's your obsession with Doctor Strange? Why do we keep resolving issues of who is the Sorcerer Supreme and other mystical matters of the Marvel Universe in New Avengers, as opposed to giving Strange or Brother Voodoo their own mags? Speaking of character obsessions, what's so special about Luke Cage, Spider-Man, and Wolverine? Is there a reason they're in every incarnation of the Avengers you write? Or is that mandated by corporate, as well?

Wow, what do you know, that was fun...

Friday, September 24, 2010

If You Can't Be With The Avengers You Love, Love The Avengers You're With

The Hulk is on a rampage with potentially devastating consequences, so Thunderbolt Ross calls in the Avengers for help. However, he's not too happy about who shows up:

Vaguely?? Really? I mean, Quicksilver was front page headlines all over the world when he joined in the first Avengers roster turnover.

And when the Scarlet Witch, Black Panther, and Hawkeye-As-Goliath show up, well, he's still going to be making snarky comments:

What an ungrateful buffoon, eh? You'd think the fastest man alive (Marvel version), a hyper-powerful android, a mutant with power over probability, a super-strong giant, and a master strategist and fighter (and king!) would be enough to satisfy him. And indeed, these "yardbirds" do manage to turn back the Hulk (although they can't capture or defeat him), despite Ross' misgivings.

Roy Thomas was writing both Hulk and Avengers at the time. I wouldn't be surprised if he meant Ross' whining to be a veiled response to the many fans at the time who were bemoaning that the Avengers "didn't have enough power" and "weren't stars" and wanted the Big Three back on the team. You got that a lot in the Avengers letters column at the time, and Roy using this team to beat back the Hulk may have been his answer to that.

Or, just maybe, Roy somehow saw through the mists of time to the distant future, when a writer of Justice League would be complaining loudly about not being allowed to use DC's Big Three, and attempting to demean the remaining Leaguers as "Cap's Kooky Quartet."

So Thunderbolt Ross--jerk, allegory for certain fans, or prophet of the future? Maybe all three...

From Incredible Hulk #128 (1970)

Friday Night Fights--Sharktopus Style!!

This Saturday night, SyFy (sigh) will be launching the greatest event in the history of humankind, with the debut of their latest "SyFy Original" movie, SHARKTOPUS.

Now, no one more than I loves the weekly tradition of SyFy taking either a natural disaster or a wild animal and adding "Mega" to the name; finding one actor with a tenuous science fiction media connection and surrounding them with unknown Europeans with indecipherable accents (and indecipherable acting); wrapping the whole enterprise in special effects that 5-year-old me could have bettered with a Lite Brite and a stop-motion camera; and then dropping the turd on undiscerning Saturday audiences who can't be bothered to wait for it to turn up 5 minutes later on Netflix. Hey, it's just part of SyFy's hidden agenda to make EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THE WORLD DUMBER. Why change the channel, because there's nothing else on...

But Sharktopus? I can top that...

For this week's Friday Night Fight, rabbit ronin Miyamoto Usagi is wandering about feudal Japan, when:

Now, we've got the octopus...and not just any octopus:

That's it then, right?

No, because this is an octopus DEMON:

Well, things couldn't get any worse, could they?

YIPES!!! And there's our shark!!

How to get out of this one??

OK, stabbing the shark and riding his dying body to the surface is a good start...

And slicing the heck out of the octopus is a good finish!!

An as the shark and the octopus slowly sink, Spacebooger suggests you enjoy the trailer for SHARKTOPUS:

Even though I didn't have Eric Roberts sliming up the screen, Stan Sakai's writing and drawing and inking and lettering clearly carry the day in Usagi Yojimbo #27 (1991).

Now go vote, dang it, before SyFy unleashes, oh, I don't know, HYPER HAILSTORM or GIGA-NEWT or MANSQUITO 2 or something...